Model-based Cognitive Neuroscience: Multifield Mechanistic Integration in Practice

Theory & Psychology 5 (29):640–656 (2019)
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Autonomist accounts of cognitive science suggest that cognitive model building and theory construction (can or should) proceed independently of findings in neuroscience. Common functionalist justifications of autonomy rely on there being relatively few constraints between neural structure and cognitive function (e.g., Weiskopf, 2011). In contrast, an integrative mechanistic perspective stresses the mutual constraining of structure and function (e.g., Piccinini & Craver, 2011; Povich, 2015). In this paper, I show how model-based cognitive neuroscience (MBCN) epitomizes the integrative mechanistic perspective and concentrates the most revolutionary elements of the cognitive neuroscience revolution (Boone & Piccinini, 2016). I also show how the prominent subset account of functional realization supports the integrative mechanistic perspective I take on MBCN and use it to clarify the intralevel and interlevel components of integration.

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Mark Povich
University of Rochester


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